En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - August 26, 2010

From: Bastrop, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Evergreen non-native herbs for Bastrop TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm looking for evergreen herbs for Bastrop Texas. I planted an herb garden in the spring of 2009, but mostly all of them died in the winter. Rosemary, Tarragon and Sage made it. thank you!

ANSWER:

We are assuming when you say "herb" you are referring to the culinary plants such as rosemary, tarragon, sage, lavender and so on. These are all native to the Meditteranean, and therefore fall out of the area of expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. However, if you will promise not to snitch to the Native Plant Police, we will tell you that this member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team has almost nothing else but herbs on a tiny 6' x 12' apartment porch in Austin. In the past, we had a true herb garden full of every herb we could find in Brenham, TX.

When we refer to "herbs" at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are talking about herbaceous blooming plants, generally speaking. Herbaceous means it is deciduous and dies  back to the ground in Winter, it may be annual, biennial or perennial. And we are always talking about plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown.

Even though they are out of our line of business, we can tell you from personal experience the herbs of the type you are referring to are pretty tricky in the South. Some are short-lived perennials, some may perennialize, but only last a few years, many are annual or biennials. Of those you mentioned, tarragon is best grown in pots where they can be protected from too much sun in the summer. Rosemary comes the closest to being dependably perennial, but will eventually begin to die out from the center, and takes the sudden drops of temperature we can have in Texas in the Fall and Winter very poorly. Our experience with sage (the culinary sage, not the many decorative salvias) was that it just melted down in Texas Summer. Lavender is still our favorite and we love to sprinkle it in the morning for the fragrance alone, but it, too, has a lot of difficulty dealing with Texas heat and humidity. We treat it as an annual, when it dies, we go buy another one and replace it. 

A couple of books we can recommend are Howard Garrett's Herbs for Texas and Southern Herb Gardening from Shearer Press, by Madelene Hill and Gwen Barclay, a somewhat tattered copy of which is still on my desk bookshelf. 

Remember, you didn't hear any of this from me. 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Space between trees from Blythewood SC
April 05, 2013 - I'm planting 4 green giants in a back corner of my yard. I also have a kumquat tree to plant. I have somewhat limited space. What is the minimum spacing between the four green giants and the green gi...
view the full question and answer

Is there a purple passion hibiscus?
May 27, 2009 - Hello! I bought a climbing vine in a hanging basket that looks like a passion flower vine to me. However, I was told that it was a "purple passion hibiscus." I cannot find such a flower on the inter...
view the full question and answer

Suckers on non-native Mayten tree
April 26, 2009 - We have a Meyten tree that has lots of suckers coming up from the roots. We would like to keep the tree, but if we can't find a way to control the suckers, we are considering taking it out. Any sugg...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on non-native jasmine from Austin
June 25, 2012 - Hi, I have a mature jasmine plant in the ground in a very sunny courtyard which gets watered daily. The lower leaves are turning yellow and am wondering if this is too much water for it. The top lea...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Chinese Pistache tree with dead branches in Georgetown TX
April 08, 2010 - Have mature Chinese Pistachio tree with many dead branches and few buds forming so far this spring - has been beautiful for many years. Do you know why this is happening and what can be done about it...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center